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eating out...

i know this is a general question for the veggie minded, but i was at a conferance over the weekend and had some problems when asking about the vegan-ness of foods. so here is the question.

how do you all ask at resterants (when you can't research online, which i normally do) about eggs/milk/meat in things? i usually will ask about each thing (are their eggs in the bagels?) and get a strange look and a "i don't think so". while i then ask if they can check the ingredant list to make sure, i was thinking there has got to be a better way of streamlining the eating out process....really, i don't know why telling me they "think" there is or isn't is a good response. for all they know, i could be allergic. it isn't that i'm just asking to bug them...

on another note, i love vegitarian resterants. makes life a heck of a lot easier when they really know what a vegitarian and vegan are....

Eating out is a dilemma sometimes. I always keep in mind that the waitstaff has access to my food outside my line of sight.  ;)  In other words, you don't want to piss off your waitperson by having them trot back to the kitchen several times or for a long list of ingredient checks.

Generally I just go with what looks like the most vegan item on the menu. It's not an ideal situation, but fortunately, I do not eat out much & when I do, I try to go to places where I know I can get a good vegan meal.

I avoid soup cuz so many are made with chicken broth & for some reason people will look at chicken broth & not see a meat item.  ::)  I also do not bother to ask if there is whey in the portabello burger bun. I either just eat it or don't eat it. I assume that most desserts have eggs or dairy in them, so I do not order dessert & I assume most garden burgers are the Morningstar variety & have cheese.

You have to decide to what degree to take your vegan-ness when eating out. It's nice to have a variety of restaurants on your list that you know you can get something vegan & when you are out you can always suggest one of those.

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Like Lezly, we don't eat out very often. Part of the reason is that we love to cook, and not that we're fabulous chefs or anything, but we like the taste of our cooking and we KNOW what's in there.

When we do eat out, we only eat at places we know are vegetarian. To us, it's just not worth the hassle of trying to ask about every single thing on the menu. It's more tiring than it is enjoyable to eat out if you have to do that all the time. If I'm out with other people and I don't get to pick the restaurant, I just eat salad. Boring, but safe.

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Some tips:

Speak to the manager directly or if possible, call ahead. (By calling ahead to a restaurant, I found out their salsa had chicken MEAT in it. We had been there before and the server said "oh there's no cheese or meat in it..." I hadn't trusted that so I called and I was correct).
Also, most places have boxes with ingredients on them that you can ask to see personally, but they are in the kitchen. Do not take "I don't think so..." for an answer. You are paying for your meal, aren't you?
Always say it is an allergy and remember to tip 20% or more (USA anyways) for good service and thank your server for their help. In the US (at least in Fl, servers make less than minimum wage) I used to be a server and it sucks to bust your butt for someone who doesn't appreciate it. This has happened to me and they will remember you if you do that.
Don't be afraid to call their national phone line either. Chili's went to new heights at messing up my (easy) order and I wasn't shy to call them. Keep your receipt.

Hope this helps and happy eating.

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Chicken meat in salsa? Wonders never cease!!  ::) 

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Concurring with the allergy angle.  People sometimes think of lifestyle or ethical vegans as annoying.  They tend to be more thorough if they think you have an allergy as they don't want to risk having you get deathly ill right there in the restaurant and slapping a massive lawsuit on them.

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